Ex-Och-Ziff duo's Asia hedge fund boosts pipeline

HONG KONG Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:10am EDT

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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Two former managing directors of Och-Ziff Capital Management (OZM.N), Manoj Jain and Sohit Khurana, are starting their own hedge fund in Hong Kong by the end of the year, sources said, boosting a strong pipeline of start-ups in the region for 2012.

Jain, 33, and Khurana, 39, are setting up their Asia-focused hedge fund firm Maso Capital, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The two executives are aiming to raise about $250 million (160 million pounds) in the medium term for the multi-asset class hedge fund which will be a combination of event-driven equity and convertible bond arbitrage strategies, one of the sources said.

The sources declined to be named as they were not authorised to comment. Jain and Khurana could not be reached for comment.

Jain and Khurana join the likes of William Lee, the former head of JPMorgan Chase & Co's (JPM.N) equity derivatives group for Asia-Pacific, and former Nomura Holdings Inc (8604.T) trader Benjamin Fuchs, who plan to launch their hedge funds this year.

The start-up pipeline, which looks stronger than last year as tried and tested proprietary desk traders and hedge fund managers strike out on their own, comes as a sentiment booster for the industry which, according to Eurekahedge, has seen about 40 Asia-focused hedge funds shut down so far in 2012.

TOUGH 2011

Investors have pulled out of hedge funds following a tough 2011. The industry's assets are now about $50 billion below their peak level of $176 billion hit in December 2007.

Khurana was formerly co-manager of the Asian convertible book for U.S. hedge fund Och-Ziff. Jain was responsible for Asia merger arbitrage, event driven and capital markets.

Both left Och-Ziff earlier this year, according to filings on the Hong Kong market regulator's website.

The two have hired a chief operating officer and are in the process of setting up their firm and raising capital, one of the sources said.

The pipeline of new hedge funds also includes Naga Capital, scheduled for launch in the third quarter by former Citigroup (C.N) portfolio manager Yang Yeo, and Janice Dunnett, who earlier ran Morgan Stanley's (MS.N) convertible bond franchise in the Asia-Pacific region.

Former Highbridge Capital portfolio manager Toby Bartlett is preparing to launch his hedge fund in July or August, while Eashwar Krishnan, former Asia head of hedge fund firm Lone Pine Capital, will launch his own firm Tybourne Capital on July 2.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Maso Capital earlier on Friday.

(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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